Tip of the week: Print Size and Sensor Size

Illustration with paper size of format A

This is not a technical review of sensors and printing dpi. It is about questioning the need to upgrade/buy a bigger size sensor camera for moderate image size prints.

I managed with my family to go on a trip to the Netherlands and on that trip, I had my DX sensor based camera and my wife a mobile phone. I am not a mobile camera lover; saying that, I always use standard conventional cameras.

So, we printed some of our photos on A4 and A5 size prints.

A mix of mobile phone and DX camera shots, I honestly was unable to tell the difference! Well, mobile phone photos tend to have more contrast and therefore less detail ... but then, why would I need more detail on such print sizes. I would need a DX/FX if I'm a professional photographer doing larger prints beyond A3 size for a living. As for anything else, a contemporary mobile phone may surprisingly be adequate.

Digital camera sensor compared to phone matrix

For more editing flexibility, one needs a bigger sensor to reveal details from shades and highlights. The bigger the sensor the more color info one can get out of the image. It would be an in between option to use a CX sensor ... a sensor size between a DX and a Mobile phone, that sensor Size is used in pocket cameras that have a fair amount of zoom range and can get detail more than the best current mobile camera phone.

At the end of the day, its a matter of individual preference ... technology is keeping up with all users to get the best out of the product/tool/camera they have ... and if the print requires more detail as an A3 or beyond then a CX or DX may suite. Just do a visual comparison and see for yourself if its worth upgrading to a more expensive photography tool ... if the only need is larger prints, disregarding focus technology, video capabilities, microphone jack etc ...

Hope this article helps :)

Photo credits: Andrii Turtsevych, Aleksandr Atkishkin.

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August 30, 2019


If I had to rely on a mobile phone I could, and some of my Dreamstime sales were taken on a phone. However, I have a "real" camera with me almost 100% of the time.

August 29, 2019


If you are talking about stock photography, I do not think that it's a "matter of individual preference..."  It is the Industry standards and demands that call the shots. (forgive the pun.) An image editor who licenses a backplate image for a car advertising is not going to examine iPhone images.  However, if you are referring to personal holiday photography, and not printing over A4, you are correct in your logic.  

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